Help: I can’t stop playing karaoke in Yakuza

July 7, 2022

The first Yakuza game I played was Yakuza 3 on the PlayStation 3. Since I was a newbie to the series, I just played the main story and did a few of the amazingly bizarre side quests. The Yakuza games have really in-depth storylines with characters you can’t help but fall in love with, but what they also have is addictive minigames, like using the crane machines in the Sega Arcade, batting cages, and - my personal favorite - karaoke. I didn’t even know that the karaoke minigame existed until I played Yakuza 0 (my favorite in the series)!

The actual gameplay of the karaoke mini game, which is available in every Yakuza game since Yakuza 3, is pretty simple; a song plays, and you match the notes by pressing the corresponding buttons in time with the song. If you’ve ever played any kind of rhythm video game, this won’t be a foreign concept. I grew up playing Donkey Konga, which I wrote about a few weeks back, and that’s where my love of rhythm games began. What makes the Yakuza minigames so great is honestly what makes the Yakuza series so great - it is so weird.

Weird in what way, you ask? Well, there’s a song in which Kazuma Kiryu, the main character in the series, sings/growls, “fly like a beautiful butterfly.” The juxtaposition of Kiryu - a big, tough gang member - in a tiny karaoke bar clapping his hands and singing his heart out never fails to make me laugh. 

Not to mention the songs are incredibly catchy, and the cinematics that play during some of them are random and weird and embody everything I love about these games. One of my personal favorites is Iji Sakura 2000, which is featured in Yakuza Kiwami (a remake of the game that started the series). The guitars and Kiryu’s intense vocals already make it a banger, but when that cinematic starts up, that’s when things get really exciting; during the cinematic, we get a flashback of Kiryu in prison, and he pulls two GIANT carrots out of the dirt at the end. As I said, bizarre.

I’m going to go ahead and manifest a standalone Yakuza karaoke series akin to the Persona Dancing series. I can’t count the number of times I’ve reinstalled these games simply for the karaoke mini game. Once I beat the main storylines in Yakuza games, I don’t really go back and replay them or do side quests simply because of time. But I’ve always got time for karaoke. 

If you like rhythm games and Japanese culture, you owe it to yourself to play Yakuza. If you also enjoy a great story and fighting games, you’ll probably fall head over heels for the series. Start with Yakuza 0, as that is where the whole storyline begins. 

Plus, you will also get a chance to play as Goro Majima, and karaoke with him is a hilarious experience. If you’re more of a turn-based RPG fan, play Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Yakuza 7). You can thank me later. 

What games are you looking forward to? Let me know on Twitter: @cgottowhite.
  • Cassie Gotto-White is a gamer, a planner babe, and a boba tea fanatic. She discovered her passion for video games at age six when she was given an NES Top Loader by her aunt. Her current main consoles are the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Some of her favorite games include The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, the Yakuza series, Persona 5, and Night in the Woods. Follow her on Instagram at @planningwithcass and YouTube at

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